In the middle of a pandemic, during an intense election campaign, Texans are voting like there's no tomorrow. More people have voted already in the general election than cast ballots in 2016, the Hill reports. The state reports voting has topped 9 million, a record, as of Thursday; in 2016, 8,969,226 ballots were cast. The votes cast represent 53% of registered voters. Voters don't indicate party membership when they register in Texas, per the Texas Tribune, so the high turnout doesn't indicate support for one side or the other. But it would seem to show that voters are motivated. In addition, Gov. Greg Abbott ordered six bonus days of early voting in an effort to keep crowds down at polls on Election Day. And leaders of both parties called on voters to act early.
Texas hasn't awarded its electoral votes to a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976, and President Trump carried the state by 9 percentage points in 2016. But polls show a tight race this time. Joe Biden's running mate, Kamala Harris, was making an appearance in Texas on Friday. Texas' own Beto O’Rourke has been trying to get Biden himself to campaign there, per Politico, and the high turnout is one of the reasons. The state has a growing, diverse population that now more closely resembles the Democratic Party than the Republicans', O'Rourke argued. A visit from Biden before Tuesday might make the difference, he said. Just in case, O'Rourke has a speech ready for Biden to deliver. (Multiple forecasters have made Texas a toss-up state in 2020.)